How To Be Led By The Spirit
Volume One: Following Peace in Your Spirit
by Dale W. Leander

 
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version, Holy Bible.
Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers.
Scripture quotations noted NAS are from the New American Standard Bible.
Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1972, 1975, 1977,
by The Lockman Foundation.

How to Be Led by the Spirit
Volume One: Following Peace in Your Spirit
ISBN 1-58556-001-4, Second edition, first printing
Copyright 1999 by Dale W. Leander
P.O. Box 701045
Tulsa, OK 74170
1 (800) GET-WORD
www.wordsoflife.org


 
DEDICATION: To my wonderful wife, Judi.
 

 
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
 
Chapter 1 Introduction
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
09
 
Chapter 2 Being Led by the Peace of God
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
11
 
Chapter 3 Some Personal Examples
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
17
 
Chapter 4 Other Issues in Guidance
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
21
 

 
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Special thanks to Janet Babb Kendall for her initiative and labor for the Lord. She volunteered to transcribe and edit my tapes from this series into the basic manuscript that produced this book. Her work will bless many believers and help them find God's will for decisions in their lives.

I want to thank Jadell Forman for her editorial advice and Kim Kreilaus of KMK Design for all his artistic work, advice, and friendship.

I want to especially thank my wonderful wife, Judi, for being so important to my life. She is a great woman, wife, mother, partner, friend, and minister. Much of what I have done in ministry has been helped greatly by having her at my side.

Last, I want to give God all the glory for anything good that comes out of my life, ministry, tapes, and books. I want to acknowledge Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, the head of my ministry, and the one who deserves all honor and praise. If the brief teaching in this book helps your life in some way, thank Jesus for it.
 

Dale Leander
Tulsa, Oklahoma

 

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
 
Most Christians know they are supposed to obey the written Word of God. That is the "bedrock" of all decision making. As a Christian, you should never, ever violate the written Word. But what do you do about the dozens (or hundreds) of decisions you have to make each day that are not covered by the written Word? How about the major decisions such as job changes, which car to buy, which house to buy, or even which person to marry? This book will show you a powerful principle you can use daily to follow the Holy Spirit's leading for better decision making in your life.

At the moment you are born again, you have a completely new human spirit placed inside you by God, making the born-again believer a "new creation in Christ." This righteous, holy, human spirit in you is your direct connection with the Holy Spirit of God. This new human spirit is alive, not dead, and is where God's Holy Spirit dwells.

Three-fourths of the Bible is the Old Testament, and the people of the Old Testament had essentially a "dead" human spirit on the inside of them. For this reason, they could not be led by the Holy Spirit like you and I can. In the strictest sense, the examples in the Old Testament of people making decisions do not apply to believers today. We are New Testament, born-again believers. Romans 8:14 says, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." In other words, the sons of God (that includes both men and women) are led by the Spirit of God.

The book of Proverbs teaches that wise counsel from other people is important. But it is more important to know that you can and should be led by the Spirit in making decisions. You need to know how to be led, what you will feel or experience, and how to avoid mistakes which could lead to a wrong decision.

The illustration of the Old Testament tabernacle will show you the spirit-soul-body relationship. Do you remember the tent that Moses and the children of Israel moved around with them in the wilderness? It is an illustration of how you and I are made. There was an outer wall creating an outer court which represents our body. Inside the wall, near the center, was a large tent. And inside that tent were two rooms, representing the two halves of our inner being. Inside the tent, these two rooms were called the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place (sometimes called the Holy of Holies). Inside each of us, the Holy Place represents the soul (mind, will, and emotions) and the Most Holy Place represents our spirit. Our spirit is where God's Spirit dwells.

You are led by the Holy Spirit through your spirit, not through your mind or your body. The mind and body have their important God-given roles, but they are not what you are to be led by spiritually. Many people are led by their mind, education, and experience. And even worse, many people are led by the desires of their body: passions, lusts, and appetites. Sometimes people are led by their relatives, their friends, or the peer pressures of society, including what they see on television. But God's children are supposed to be led by God's Spirit, just as it says in Romans 8:14.
 

CHAPTER 2: BEING LED BY THE PEACE OF GOD
 
The most important Scripture in the study of how to be led by the Spirit of God is Colossians 3:15,"let the peace of God rule in your hearts." One of the definitions in Strong's Concordance of the word rule is "umpire." In other words, you are to let the peace of God be the "umpire" in your spirit. What does an umpire do? An umpire makes decisions.

Every day, we all receive thousands of pieces of information and make hundreds, even thousands, of decisions. Some are very automatic, like driving forward when a traffic light turns green. Others are much more complex, such as the needs of our families, the jobs we perform, or the amount of time we spend in prayer and Bible study. Wouldn't you like to make every decision right? Being able to make the right decision more often will move you a long way toward having every need met: spirit, soul, body, finances, career, recreation, and everything. God wants to help you every time make the right decision!

The Holy Spirit is the most intelligent being in the universe and He lives inside you. He knows the right answer to every decision and every situation that occurs in your life and He wants to help you. He guides you in making decisions by His peace "ruling in your heart," meaning in your spirit.

Psychologists and psychiatrists are specialists who deal with the human soul. The root word psyche comes from the Greek language, meaning soul. The Greek word for spirit is pneuma. So a pneumologist would be someone who specializes in things of the spirit — and that is what you want to become. You want to be able to "home-in," or concentrate, on your own spirit: not your mind, your education, the advice of your friends, the newspaper, television, or the desires of your body.

Statistics would indicate you could flip a coin to make your decisions and be right an average of half the time. Do you only want to make 50 percent of your decisions right? No! Success is not built on being "half right." How do you increase the number of right decisions? You do it by receiving the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God Who knows all things all the time.

Isaiah 55:10-12 (NAS) is a confirmation of the Colossians 3:15 scripture. It reads,
"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread for the eater; so shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. For you will go out with joy, and be led forth with peace..."
(emphasis added). God's Word comes in two forms: the written word, which is the Bible, and the spoken word, which is God's direct communication with His sons and daughters by the Holy Spirit.

God's written Word is unshakable and should be the foundation for every area of your life. But as valuable as the written Word is, it does not tell you whether you should buy a Ford or a Chevy, or the house on Elm Street or Oak Street. Sometimes believers try to make God's Word answer these questions by throwing open the Bible, closing their eyes, pointing to a verse and deciding that wherever their finger lands must be God's answer. If the first few tries don't seem to make sense, they just keep trying. Other people look for "signs" or circumstances around them. But this is not being led by God's Spirit!

The fact is, most of the decisions we make each day cannot be found directly in the Word of God. This does not in any way devalue God's Word; some time invested daily reading the Word is a must! God's Word is true and you should not ever violate the written Word of God. The Holy Spirit of God will never lead you in a way that is contrary to the written Word of God. That is a basic principle. For example, if a Christian comes to me and says God told him or her to marry an unbeliever, I know with assurance that God did not say any such thing. The written Word clearly says in 2nd Corinthians 6:14, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers." There is no greater yoke than marriage, so the Holy Spirit would not tell someone to marry an unbeliever.

Think of God's written Word as the bedrock of all your decision making. You never, ever violate this principle. The challenge then is to deal with those decisions which are not specifically covered in the written Word.

Now what if you are in a difficult situation and sin seems like the only reasonable option? It is not God's answer! That is the deceptiveness of sin. In 1st Corinthians 10:13 (NAS), scripture says, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it." No matter how difficult the decision or the situation you are in seems to be, sin is never God's solution. God has a solution, but it is never sin.

Violating God's written Word is never the proper option for a Christian. Sin is always an option, but it's always the wrong option. God is faithful and no matter how far behind you are on your bills or what sickness is attacking your body, 1st Corinthians 10:13 promises that God will provide a way out — an answer!

Then how do you know what to do in difficult decisions? How do you know what the answer is? If the written Word does not cover it, then that is when you must follow peace in your heart, and that peace will be your foundation for decision making. This is what Romans 8:16 is referring to when it says, "the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit." It is referring to us sensing God's peace in our spirit.

What building blocks may go on top of the foundation of peace? Some of God's options are: visions, dreams, prophecies, voices, open doors, closed doors, circumstances, and "coincidences." Any or all of these things may occur and be an influence in your decision, but you must handle each one based upon the foundation of peace in your spirit. No matter which of these options have occurred, do not act on it unless that option gives you peace in your spirit at that moment. If someone prophesies that you are supposed to change jobs tomorrow but you don't have peace in your spirit, don't you dare resign! Even if it's Mr. or Mrs. Famous Evangelist, don't do it unless you have peace in your spirit. Many, many people have been deceived and misled by what seemed to be a form of spectacular guidance when they didn't have peace in their spirit about it.

Now, let's say you know a prophecy (or whatever) was of God. You are absolutely sure. If you do not have peace in your spirit then it may simply not be God's timing. God has a will for your life, but He also has perfect timing — and the two are completely different things. For example, I know a man who had an open vision of himself teaching and preaching at the meetings of a well-known minister. He was excited! He started preparing right away — he was going to be ready. But it was eleven years before the vision came to pass. It came to pass just exactly as he had seen in the vision, but there were eleven years between when God gave him the vision and when God brought it to pass. There were times during those years when he thought, "Well, I guess that wasn't God; I guess it was too much pizza late at night...." But it was God, and God brought it to pass.

How do you bring a prophecy to pass? Just believe it. That is what Mary did when the angel said she would give birth to the Savior. Luke 1:45 says, "Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord." You don't have to get into the flesh and start trying to make it happen. That is what Abraham did. If God gave you the prophecy or vision, He is well able to bring it to pass. After all, He created over a billion galaxies with about a billion stars in each one and He knows the name of every single star. He is well able to bring to pass that vision, prophecy, or whatever guidance He gave you.

The Bible gives us many examples of the importance of God's timing. Moses was a man of God, but because he got ahead of God's timing, the children of Israel were not led out of captivity until they had been under Egyptian rule for 430 years. They served an extra 30 years because Moses acted outside of God's timing. (For further reference on this, you can study Genesis 15:13, Exodus 12:40, and Acts 7:6,25.) The lesson in this is that we must pray for wisdom for our leaders because their choices may affect us! The Bible tells us clearly we should pray for our leaders (1st Timothy 2:1-2). Now you know why — so that we may live a peaceable and quiet life.

Abraham's actions are an example of operating outside of God's timing. God had told Abraham that he and his wife Sarah would have a son and that Abraham would be the father of many nations. But because they were well advanced in years and Sarah was barren at that time, they decided they would help God out and agreed that Abraham should lay with Sarah's maid, Hagar. Sure enough, that relationship produced a son. But it was not the son whom God had promised.

Being led by the Spirit means not only knowing God's will, but also knowing his timing. Therefore you must interpret any visions, dreams, prophecies, voices, and so forth in light of the peace in your spirit. A lack of peace in your spirit to support a vision or prophecy may simply mean it is not God's right timing. Remember that God may show you something years ahead of time just to encourage you and keep you going. If God has spoken something to you, then praise Him for it. It will come to pass if you believe it and stay in faith. If you get into unbelief, you can prevent a lot of good things from happening.

Now it is only fair to point out that true faith will usually produce appropriate corresponding action. James 2:26 tells us that faith without works (corresponding action) is dead. There is sometimes a fine balance between doing nothing and doing too much. If we really believe God, there should be some outward evidence that we believe. But that does not mean we should take it upon ourselves to try to manipulate people or in some way force God's Word to come to pass in our lives. Hebrews 6:12 says, "Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."

 

CHAPTER 3: SOME PERSONAL EXAMPLES
 

Here is a practical example from my own life about being led by peace in making a decision about a job. Many years ago I was teaching accounting at a large state university. I had begun to work on my master's degree and I liked my teaching job. Over the summer, I wasn't going to teach any classes so I needed a temporary job. I interviewed with two companies. One was a prosperous oil company that would pay me a high salary for a special three-month summer internship. I was sure that was the job for me! The other company was a computer company that serviced the banking industry. And while it was a good firm, they only offered me an hourly wage that was far less than the oil company's pay scale. I simply thought the computer company was not offering enough money. I wanted to make as much money as I possibly could over the summer to cover my living expenses and tuition costs in the school year starting that fall.

I considered the computer company's wage offer and thought, "That can't be God." And that's what anyone would think, right? But the pivotal word was think. Or you might say, reason. Even though I was convinced that the computer job couldn't be the right one, I still prayed. I knew the principle to follow and I got very still before God. When I considered the job at the computer company, I had a real sense of peace. But I thought, "Oh, no God! Don't You know how little this job pays? Do You understand how small my check will be after federal income tax, Lord?" Those were the thoughts that went through my mind. Then I considered the job at the oil company, but all I could sense was "noise" in my spirit. I just could not get comfortable in my spirit about it.

Remember, it's peace in your spirit, not brain. We don't throw our intellect out, but we don't lean on our intellect. In Proverbs 3:5-6 it says, "Lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." So I didn't lean on my brain or my reasoning, but I expected Him to direct my path by peace in my spirit.

All I had peace about was the job at the hourly wage with the computer company, so I took it. Well, there were a number of things I didn't know that God knew. The first thing I didn't know was that after two months, my supervisor would come to me and say, "Dale, we hired you into this job too cheap." I didn't say it out loud, but inside I thought, "Yes! My supervisor — who to my knowledge was not a Christian — then said, "We should have paid you more when we brought you on board, so I'm going to give you a $2.00 per hour raise retroactive back to the first day you started. We're going to figure out what we owe you in additional back wages and cut you a check right now. I'll go call the Accounting Department." And he did! (And $2.00 an hour back then was worth a lot more in today's money.) God can do the unusual. I didn't do it, but God did!

The second thing I didn't know was that over the summer the state government would make a legislative change. They began requiring Ph.D. professors to teach an increased number of semester hours in order to maintain residency at the state universities. For that reason, I got bumped out of teaching my classes, along with many other undergraduate teaching fellows like me who were working on their master's degrees while teaching. We were forced to step out of our teaching assignments to let professors with a full Ph.D. teach those classes.

I didn't know that I was going to be out of a teaching job that fall, but when I found out, I went to my supervisor at the computer company and explained the situation. I asked if there was any work I could continue doing for the company. He said, "Any work? Sure! In fact, you can work any schedule that you want. I know you are taking night classes, but you might need some time during the day to be at school." I told him the best schedule for me would be to work four days a week with Fridays off, and he said, "Fine!" Then, at the end of the year, they gave me another raise and made me a salaried employee with full benefits. God knew all those things ahead of time. I didn't. I followed the peace in my spirit, and it all worked out. I would never have received all those blessings if I had followed my brain or regular advice from average people.

I praise God for wise counsel and advice — don't get me wrong. If the counsel you receive gives you peace, keep it. But if it doesn't, just toss it out. And always consider the source of advice — the spiritual maturity and motives of the person.

I once received a "prophecy" from a woman who wrote it out for me on paper. It told me who I should marry. (She wanted me to marry her daughter!) I didn't have peace about it in my spirit, but I took it to the pastor I was serving under at that time and asked him what he thought. He said, "Do you have peace in your spirit about it?" I said, "No." He said, "Burn it in your charcoal grill!" And that's just what I did, and I didn't worry about it.

Another example of following spiritual peace concerns a feeling I had in my spirit that I should change churches from one called Shiloh to one called Bethel when I was first starting out in the ministry. I was involved in the youth ministry at Shiloh and it was a good church. I began to pray about it and went to the leadership at Shiloh. They didn't want me to make a change. They felt God was using me there and that I had potential to be an important part of their future plans. I appreciated their sincerity. They made a real effort to express their honest opinions and they were good people. Still, what I had peace in my spirit about was changing to the church called Bethel.

Then a man in leadership at Shiloh told me to pray that God would give me a vision or a dream. He implied that in something as important as changing churches, God would give me a vision or a dream. I did a lot of praying and fasted a total of twenty-two days over the next three months. But no vision or dream occurred to answer my question and neither did any prophecy, open door, etc.

Finally, I visited my parent's house for dinner one night and shared what I had been praying about. But all they said was to follow the peace in my spirit to make my decision. At that point, I told them, "This is it. I'm changing churches." The next day I had lunch with a Christian friend at work who I would get together with for fellowship every three or four months. When she asked me what the Lord was doing in my life, I told her I was changing churches, but I did not mention names of the churches. She didn't live in the same city I did and was not familiar with the churches there. But she immediately said, "I've got a word from the Lord for you." Then she gave me the scripture "1st Kings 13." I thought to myself, "Oh, that's probably a list of the genealogies of the tribes of Israel or something." I knew scriptures about guidance, but there weren't any in 1st Kings that I immediately knew of. But I wrote it down and thanked her anyway.

Later, I thought that I should at least check it out because I would be ashamed if she asked me about it and I hadn't even looked it up. When I turned to 1st Kings 13 and 14 and read them, I started praising God! Those passages are about a young prophet traveling between cities and two of the cities named are Bethel and Shiloh. That got my attention! The young prophet was given certain advice by an older prophet. He listened to the older prophet and followed his advice instead of obeying the Lord — and he was killed by a lion! I thought, "Praise God, I made the right decision and obeyed the Lord."

The Lord showed me in the Word that what pleases Him is faith. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:6 (NAS), "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." God waited for me to make the decision in faith, and then He gave me the supernatural confirmation through a friend. And at the first event I went to at that church, I met the woman who became my wife.

Don't seek signs and wonders, seek the Giver of the supernatural, and He will show you the signs and wonders when and if He wants to. Your job is to follow peace in your spirit, making your decisions by faith. If God sees fit to give you something supernatural, fine. And if He doesn't, fine. He's God and we should not tell Him how to direct and guide us and whether to give us a sign or a wonder or something spectacular. He knows a lot more about guidance than we do. We should just follow His instructions and we will be much better off.

 

CHAPTER 4: OTHER ISSUES IN GUIDANCE
 

What about fleeces? A lot of people read about Gideon's fleece in Judges 6. My opinion is they will get fleeced if they try fleeces. Gideon was a man of doubt and unbelief, he was not a man of faith. He was an Old Testament Hebrew who was not born-again in his spirit. Three different times he asked God to give him signs. Two of the times he used a fleece, which is a piece of sheep's wool. Using the fleece was a sign of doubt and unbelief. For a New Testament believer, to use "fleeces" would be doubt — not faith. And Romans 14:23 says, "Whatever is not from faith is sin."

Remember that just because the Bible records something that someone did, God does not always intend it as an example for us to follow. David committed adultery with Bathsheba and he had her husband, Uriah, killed. Is this a good example for us to follow? No, of course not! It is recorded in the Bible, but it is not recorded to be an example for us to follow. It is also recorded in the Bible that Gideon used a fleece, but it is not intended to be an example for us to follow. Gideon was a man of fear, not faith. He was hiding from the Midianites. He did end up obeying God and leading the children of Israel to victory in battle. But he used the fleece out of doubt and unbelief, not because that was God's plan for how people should get guidance and direction.

Romans 8:14 tells us the children of God are led by His Spirit — not by fleeces. If you use fleeces, you'll get fleeced! Why? First, you are operating in doubt and unbelief, not by the New Testament command to be led by the Spirit. Second, you will get fleeced because you are operating in the natural realm. 2nd Corinthians 4:4 (NAS) says, "...the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see...." What god of this world is Paul talking about? The devil! Satan is the god of this world (this world system). Any time you get into the natural realm to seek guidance, you are in the realm of the god of this world. You are seeking guidance in Satan's territory if you are operating in the natural realm. Any time you decide to flip coins, or flip open your Bible and point to a verse, or put out a "fleece" (anything in the natural realm), you open yourself up to be potentially misled by the devil because he is the god of this world. How do you stay in God's realm? You stay in the spiritual realm. By following peace in your spirit, you stay in God's realm and you stay in the area where God will lead you.

Isaiah 57:21 says there is no peace for the wicked. When you are born-again, you are in God's family and you are capable of operating in God's realm. You have the ability to follow spiritual peace. There is no peace for the wicked. And when you get over into the devil's territory, the devil can't use peace because he doesn't have any peace. He can't create peace. He can cause confusion, strife, and all kinds of anxiety, but he cannot create spiritual peace.

The book of Ephesians says twice that your spirit is sealed. That means the devil does not have access to the inside of your spirit. When you stay tuned-in to your spirit, following peace, you have beat the devil on two counts: (1) he doesn't have access to your spirit, that's God's realm, and (2) you are following peace and he can't create peace. You have tuned him out two different ways when you make your decisions in the realm of your spirit. If you choose to get over into the natural realm with fleeces, you are in the devil's territory. And he can mislead people who are seeking answers in the natural realm.

The good news is that you can follow peace 100 percent of the time in every decision you will make all of your life. There is never a decision you will have to make that you can't use peace in your spirit. If the written Word covers it, then it's a closed case and the decision already made. But, for the vast majority of decisions you make in life where the written Word doesn't cover it, you need to tune into God's peace — and you can do that 100 percent of the time, all your life. There will never be a situation where you can't tune into God's peace in your spirit.

Now even when you are staying in the spirit realm, following peace in your spirit, don't abandon common sense. You don't abandon normal means that God has already made available for you to get information. As an illustration, I know how to be led by the Spirit, but I still wear a watch. Watches are available in America, they are very inexpensive to own, and you can be on time by following your watch. You don't have to show up for your appointments when you feel peace that you should be there! That would be putting God to the test because He has provided the means to use a watch to be on time.

A second example is your checkbook. God has provided the means of arithmetic to add up the balance in your checkbook. Therefore, you shouldn't say, "I'll write checks until I no longer have peace." You could end up in jail for writing hot checks! That is also putting God to the test. The principle is this: you use what God has given you. That way you don't put God to the test.

Out of laziness, some people don't want to be diligent in obtaining natural information which is available and pertains to their situation. They want God to take care of everything for them — simple with no effort. But that's not the way God works and that is not the principle the Bible lays out for us to follow. God expects you to do your part, then He will do the things you can't do and provide the information you can't know.

For example, I know of a pastor whose church got into financial trouble because he stopped looking at the financial figures for a number of months. He didn't know what their revenues and expenses were. He just kept spending and making decisions. And in about six months the church was in a terrible financial situation. That is putting God to the test. If the information is available, but you are not willing to use it, then don't expect supernatural guidance to work because that is violating a written principle of God by putting Him to the test.

In Numbers 14:22-23, the children of Israel put God to the test ten times, but then God had enough and caused all of them over the age of twenty to die in the wilderness (except Joshua and Caleb). A lot of people think, "Well, I've put God to the test before and He still came through." That's what the children of Israel thought nine times. They tried it a tenth time and died in the wilderness. Do you know how many times you have put God to the test? Sometimes we don't even realize when we have put God to the test. Our current count might be very near the end of His grace! So don't even think about putting God to the test.

Because we live under a dispensation of mercy and grace, people sometimes seem to "get away" with more things than people did in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, people could pick up sticks on the Sabbath and get stoned to death! Under the New Testament dispensation of mercy and grace, we may see people that seem to get away with horrible sins, and they seem to just keep on living and doing fine. They are really not getting away with anything, but it seems that way because of God's mercy. Mercy and grace simply provide more time before the consequences occur. Everyone will reap what they sow, it is just a matter of time. Don't put the Lord to the test, because the end of that kind of thing is always bad. People that sow bad seed — reap and weep.

In the New Testament there are two Greek words which are translated into English as "word." These words are logos and rhema. Most of the time when we talk about the Word of God, we are referring to the written word, logos. But God uses both kinds of words related to guidance: written and spoken. Because of the sinful nature of mankind in our natural society, we have come to depend upon written words in our daily life in order to be able to enforce contracts and conduct business. But God is not untrustworthy concerning His words. Whether He gives it to you in writing or speaks it to you, God's words are totally dependable — and His spoken word will never violate His written Word. And of course the way you perceive God's spoken word to your spirit is usually through "peace." Jesus is called the Prince of Peace, you know.

In charismatic circles particularly, we often hear people say "God spoke to me about such and such." What does it really mean to hear God's voice? When a person hears God's voice audibly, it means that the gift of discerning of spirits operated. This is not what everybody should be experiencing every day on every decision. However, that is the impression that you can sometimes receive from charismatic ministers. You can be left with the impression that if you are not hearing an audible voice, then somehow you are not as spiritual as others. That is wrong!

Some ministers do operate in the gift of discerning of spirits more often than others just because that is God's will for their lives. In a moment of time, that inner voice simply becomes audible. You may have understood the gift of discerning of spirits as enabling a person to see a spirit, but that is just one aspect of discerning. It is not the gift of seeing spirits or the Word would say that. One way you can discern spirits is to see them, but another way is to hear them.

I have had this gift operate in my life many times, particularly in hearing spirits, both good and evil. When it is God's voice that you literally heard, it is simply the gift of discerning of spirits operating, and the way you discerned it was through hearing. God is a spirit and you can sometimes hear His voice this way. Remember, it is not the gift of discerning of evil spirits. Otherwise the Word would call it that. What kind of spirits are there? There are good and evil spirits. First of all, God is a spirit. And angels and demons are both spirits.

According to 1st Corinthians 12:11, the spiritual gifts, including discerning of spirits, operate as God wills. So when God wills for you to hear His voice audibly, it simply means that He desired for you to operate in the gift of discerning of spirits for a particular moment.

Why doesn't God allow us to hear His audible voice more often? It has been my own experience, confirmed by the experience of others in ministry, that God uses His audible voice when He knows "the going will be tough" and He wants to give you something tangible to encourage you. When God knows a person will be facing difficult times, He sometimes gives him or her something tangible and supernatural. This helps a person "hang on." But this may make you think twice about wanting to hear His audible voice.

Some people ask, "What does it sound like when God speaks in an audible voice?" The best way I can describe it is to say that it sounds like the voice is coming from the "center" of your head — the same way a voice sounds when you are listening with good quality stereo headphones on. It doesn't sound like it's coming from your right ear or your left ear, but from the center of your head. The same could be said of standing in the center of a room between two stereo speakers. Again, the sound does not seem to come from one speaker or the other, but seems to come from the center of the room. When God has spoken audibly to me, it never sounded like it came from the left or the right.

Is God only speaking to you when the gift of discerning of spirits is operating? No! He is speaking to you all the time in your spirit. That's the "still, small voice." How do you know that voice? You don't listen for syllables, consonants and vowels, you listen for peace when you are making decisions.

Two scriptures we covered were "you will be led forth by peace" and "let the peace of God rule in your heart." It is by peace that you turn "hearing from God" into practical, daily decision-making. With all the decisions we have to make daily, we would be overwhelmed with sound if we heard an audible voice regarding each decision. It would be like trying to talk to someone while wearing headphones from a Sony Walkman radio or tape player. You couldn't carry on a conversation because the you were listening to that Sony Walkman!

If we were always listening to God talk like that, we would not be able to communicate well with the people around us. We would probably have car wrecks because we would be constantly distracted and unable to pay attention to what was going on! That is why God doesn't speak audibly very often and why He chooses to use peace in our spirit. He is always talking to us in our spirit.

At least four times the New Testament says that God is no respecter of persons, so if He will speak to one of His children, then He is obligated to speak to us all. If you have seldom or never heard His audible voice, He is still speaking to you because the Word shows us He has to. He is speaking to us regularly, but it is up to us to choose to tune in and be led by His peace.

Many times, people want to seek a prophecy for their situation. They believe they will know just what to do, or that something will really come to pass, if they can just receive a word from God for their current situation.

I personally don't seek prophecies because it has been my experience that they are not necessary to make a sound decision. I had fasted and prayed hoping to get some supernatural sign from the Lord when I was trying to decide about changing churches from Shiloh to Bethel. I did not get a prophecy or any spectacular form of guidance. But making the decision in faith by the peace in my spirit turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. And God gave me the supernatural confirmation after I made the decision. Also, I met my wife, Judi, at that church, and we went on to work in leadership roles there.

So follow the written Word of God when it applies to your situation. But follow the peace in your spirit when the decision is not covered by the written Word. And don't let people, circumstances, or fear throw you off of God's principle of "being led forth with peace."

(Note: a teaching titled Developing Spiritual Sensitivity is available to help you be more spiritually sensitive in knowing God's peace in your spirit.)

 

 
HOW TO RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE & ENJOY THE PROMISES OF GOD
 

 
ORDER: The How to Be Led by the Spirit series is available in books and on audio cassette tapes. At this time, the books and tapes are $4.00 each, prepaid, mailed to your address.

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ABOUT THIS TEACHING SERIES: In this series of teachings, Dale shares many practical revelations from the Word of God illustrated by personal testimonies to help every believer make better decisions. Keys are given to help Christians become more spiritually sensitive and to overcome hindrances in hearing God. Tips on discerning and overcoming deception are given, as well as insights on judging spectacular guidance such as prophecy, visions, and dreams. The last teaching in this series is a summary of principles to apply in personal guidance issues.

Through these teachings, you can expect to grow more confident and consistent in your decision making, especially in those ambiguous areas where there are no scriptural right or wrong alternatives. And making better decisions will naturally produce a better life.

 

 
ABOUT THIS MINISTRY: Words of Life is an organization dedicated to the ministry of God's Word based on the scripture in Hosea 4:6 that God's people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Outlets of teaching include cassette tapes, books, printed materials, electronic media, and the Internet. Over 125 practical teachings are available on a wide variety of topics to help believers experience a better life and have deeper spiritual growth. Teaching tapes are made available regardless of the person's ability to contribute financially at the time. Ongoing ministry depends on faithful financial partners who share this vision for the ministry of God's Word in America and the world.
 

 
FINANCIAL PARTNERSHIP: You can help us continue ministering and making many of our resources available without charge by sending a monthly or one time offering to: Words of Life, P.O. Box 701045, Tulsa, OK, 74170. To give by credit card, you may call and leave a secure message at 1(800) GET-WORD. To order ministry materials or give by credit card, you can also visit our web site, www.WordsOfLife.org.
 

 
REPRODUCTION AGREEMENT: Paper duplication or electronic forwarding of this teaching is permitted for non-commercial purposes provided that the complete message and contact information for Words of Life is included. Thank you. Copyright 2002 - 2006, Dale W. Leander.
 

 
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